HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 598: 11 January 2012

Tsunami prices sinking the Cook Islands?
Is Rarotonga sinking under the weight of ridiculously high prices? Why are things so expensive on Rarotonga? And why are the wages still low?
As a local returning home for a holiday after five years of living in Australia,
I was shocked to see the prices of everything. Simple items such as budget Shampoo costs around $8 to $10 bucks in the Cook Islands, WHY? And how come it costs alot of money to poop? Toilet paper is near $9 dollars. No wonder our local people struggle to make ends meet when the mark up of prices are over 100% and more.
I asked around for comments from a few locals, alot were too shy or scared to speak up. The stories I heard were all so overwhelming, I had to write about it
So many questions and no answers, will the Cook Islands stay afloat with all the price hikes? When are this new Puna Government and his team going to address this problem of heavy pricing before more local people leave? Who have Government nominated to check on fair trading keeping the prices and wages fair. If prices are going up then shouldn’t the locals be getting a pay-rise once a year to compensate? I stopped by to speak to Mark Brown the Minister of Finance to get his comments unfortunately he is off the island on holiday. So I drove around to speak to Henry Puna the Prime Minister. Nobody was home.
I noticed a Colgate toothbrush wrapper with the price tag of $18 dollars on it, is this what our tourists are paying for things, WHY?
The other day I was enjoying a light snack at a popular tourist destination and a tourist asked me “why are there so many Fijians working in the hotels?
I said, “I guess all the locals have left because our Government has not looked after them.” They said, “This is not a racial comment, “but they would not return to Rarotonga because this was not a true Cook Islands experience for them and they would rather go to Fiji.
Is this what our Tourists are saying about Rarotonga overseas? The Cook Islands has had to bring in cheaper labour because our locals have left for greener pastures?
Why are the Fijians being paid so low? They don’t deserve to be treated like this either.
I asked the question, who is going to bring in a positive wave so the Cook Islands can stay afloat. ?
I managed to get a comment from local businessman James Beer who owns and operates Manea Foods and this is what he had to say.
“It’s not surprising that our cost of living is increasingly forcing people to leave and the cost of local commodity is being spotlighted by visitors. I regularly get complaints from tourists about fuel prices when they were filling up at the Beco fuel bowser. On modest incomes Cook Islanders face an even harder path to put fuel in their machines.
To understand how these increases have come about you would need to dig very deep. An analysis of where those costs come from and how they are levied at production transportation and storage stages is an essential part of understanding how the value added chain works.
What are some of the solutions to our cost of living nightmare?
From a government perspective solutions lie in leadership at home rather than endless overseas travel.
The strength to transform our economy from a stale, fossil fuel, tourism dominated economy to a new energy, widely diversified dynamic economy.
And, by having the vision to realize that the solution to our problems lies in enabling our people to succeed on the world stage.”

-By Feona Mo’Ardee Good

Feona is a former reporter for the Cook Islands Herald who now resides in Australia and is a creative writer.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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